Here are 10 of the top music stories of 2011:
FOO FIGHTERS BREAK RECORDS WITH WASTING LIGHT
2011 was definitely a big year for Foo Fighters. The band kicked off the year by releasing a full-length documentary called Foo Fighters: Back and Forth in theaters. The film chronicles the history of the band from their first, self-titled album through the making of their seventh studio album, Wasting Light. Frontman Dave Grohl described the documentary in a statement as "our side of the story. From the first rehearsal, to the completion of our new album, it's all there."
In April, the band released Wasting Light, which featured guest musicians Bob Mould andNirvana bassist Krist Novoselic. The album landed them their first-ever number-one album on the Billboard charts, selling 235,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Foo Fighters finished up the year with Wasting Light receiving a number of accolades, including being named iTunes album of the year for 2011, winning Best Rock Video for “Walk” at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, and snagging nominations in six categories for the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.
KINGS OF LEON CANCEL U.S. TOUR, RELEASE REVEALING DOCUMENTARY
2011 turned out to be year filled with drama for Kings of Leon. Back in July, the band performed in Dallas and cut the concert short when lead singer Caleb Followill abruptly left the stage. The day after the performance, the band announced that they were canceling their 29 remaining U.S. tour dates due to Caleb's "vocal issues and exhaustion." In an interview with Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph, drummerNathan Followill refuted the rumor that Caleb’s alleged drinking problem was the cause of the band canceling the tour. “The drinking definitely wasn't what happened in Dallas,” explained Followill. “It was dehydration and overheating."
Followill went on to reveal why the band made their decision to cancel their U.S. tour. "At the end of the day we all knew we just needed to take a break,” noted Followill. “Caleb's voice was completely shot. He went and saw a specialist the next day who said [to take] six weeks [off] minimum. The American tour -- everything just kinda came to a head. If you work yourself too hard, you'll stop one way or another.”
While the band was taking a break, a full-length documentary about the band’s rise to fame called Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon premiered on Showtime in August.Talihina Sky traces the roots of Kings of Leon and answers questions about the members' religious backgrounds, their upbringing, and the inner-workings of their band. Personal home videos, unedited interviews and behind-the-scenes footage are showcased throughout the movie to give fans an understanding of how the band came to be the success that it is today.
THE RETURN OF RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, BLINK-182, & JANE’S ADDICTION
2011 marked the return of rock heavyweights Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blink-182 andJane’s Addiction. It took the Chili Peppers five years to produce their tenth studio album, I’m With You, which was released in August. The band got a new member in 2011, replacing their guitarist John Frusciante -- who left the band in 2009 -- with Josh Klinghoffer. I'm With You racked up some impressive sales when it was released. Debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200, the album sold 229,000 copies its first week, making it the second-highest debut sales week for a rock album in 2011. The Chili Peppers finished off the year on a high note when they received word that they'll be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, along with Guns N’ Roses and the Beastie Boys.
2011 was also a big year for Blink-182, as the band dropped their first album in eight years, Neighborhoods, in September. The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart with 151,000 copies sold. In an interview with ABC News Radio, frontman Tom DeLongeexplained that there's a personal meaning for the band behind the album’s title. “I think the best way to describe our band is the collision of three different worlds, three different neighborhoods, and it made a lot of sense when we were talking about the titles,” revealed DeLonge. “It seemed to be the one that best described just three completely different individuals coming together and finding common ground.”
Eight years seems to be the magic number, as it also took Jane’s Addiction that long to make their fourth studio album, The Great Escape Artist, which was released in October. The album debuted at #12 on the Billboard 200 chart, though only 24,000 copies were initially sold. Guitarist Dave Navarro told ABC News Radio that he loved being back in the studio with the band after the long hiatus. “Just being in a environment that was creative on a day to day basis, overall, is my favorite part,” declared Navarro. “Being locked in the studio for months at a time is a tremendous form of escape for us.” The band is expected to hit the road in 2012 to promote the album.
R.E.M. & THE WHITE STRIPES CALL IT QUITS
We saw the breakup of two iconic bands in 2011: R.E.M. and The White Stripes. Back in February, The White Stripes delivered a farewell message to fans on their official website. The statement read, "The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both [drummer] Meg [White] and [frontman] Jack [White] are feeling fine and in good health. It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band have it stay that way."
In September, R.E.M. announced that they were also breaking up after making music together for 31 years. The band posted a statement on their website saying that they have "decided to call it a day as a band." In an interview with Rolling Stone, bassistMike Mills explained that the breakup was amicable. "It's not because we have to or we can't stand each other or we suck," said Mills. The band released their final album in 2011, a double disc greatest-hits collection called Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011, featuring new tracks "Hallelujah," "A Month of Saturdays," and "We All Go Back to Where We Belong."
STAGE COLLAPSES AT OTTAWA BLUESFEST & BRADY DISTRICT BLOCK PARTY, DEADLY COLLAPSE AT PUKKELPOP
Bad weather wreaked havoc on summer festivals around the globe in 2011, causing destruction at the Ottawa Bluesfest and Oklahoma’s Brady District Block Party, as well as a deadly stage collapse at Belgium's Pukkelpop festival. The trouble began on July 17 when Cheap Trick’s performance at the Ottawa Bluesfest was cut short due to the main stage collapsing during a thunderstorm. Fans at the festival were stunned to see the stage collapse atop the music equipment, 20 minutes into the band's set. The group's truck driver, Sandy, sustained serious injuries in the collapse, though he was released from hospital shortly after the incident.
The next incident was just a couple of weeks later at the Brady District Block Party on August 6. Strong wind and heavy rain in Tulsa, OK caused The Flaming Lips’ lighting equipment to topple and smash onto the band’s audio equipment and instruments, ending the band's performance. While no one was injured, a Flaming Lips roadie named Matt Duckworth estimated that the storm damaged 0,000 worth of the band’s equipment.
The most severe incident of the summer occurred at Belgium's Pukkelpop festival on August 18. High winds, rain and hail brought down stages and uprooted trees, killing five people and leaving many more injured. The next day, producers of the festival canceled the rest of the event and created a private foundation to support the families of those who were killed. Some of the bands that were set to play Pukkelpop before it was canceled included 30 Seconds to Mars, Foo Fighters and Kasabian.
PAUL MCCARTNEY AND THE LOVE HE MADE
What an eventful year it was for Paul McCartney, both professionally and personally. Things got off to a very good start in February, when the Beatles legend picked up the 14th Grammy award of his career, for a live performance of his Fab Four classic "Helter Skelter." In May, McCartney mounted the first of a handful of 2011 tour legs. Throughout the year, he brought his marathon show of solo hits, Wings tunes and Fab Four classics to South America, the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East. Along the way he played his first concerts ever in Peru and Abu Dhabi, as well as gracing the stage for the first time at New York's Yankee Stadium and Chicago's Wrigley Field.
Early September saw the release of The Love We Make, a documentary that focused on McCartney's efforts to organize the star-studded Concert for New York City in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Later that month, Sir Paul's first foray into the world of ballet,Ocean's Kingdom, premiered in New York City. The rock icon composed the score for the dance piece and also came up with its storyline -- a tale about a love affair between a woman from an undersea civilization and a man from a rival terrestrial world.
Speaking of love affairs, October 10 marked the biggest event of the year for McCartney -- his marriage to New York trucking heiress Nancy Shevell. The happy couple walked down the aisle in London in front of about 30 friends and family members, and Peoplemagazine rated the ceremony as one of the weddings of 2011. Next year also looks to be an eventful one for McCartney, who announced in December that he'll be releasing an album of standards in February that will include guest appearances by Eric Clapton andStevie Wonder.
THE ROLLING STONES ROCKING ALONE
The Rolling Stones didn't spend a lot of time working together in 2011, but that didn't mean that the members of the world's greatest rock band weren't busy. Mick Jaggerjoined forces with Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Damian Marley and A.R. Rahman in the eclectic supergroup SuperHeavy, which released a self-titled album in September. Jagger also lent his vocals to the Black Eyed Peas leader Will.i.am's recent solo single "T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)." The tune broke into the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, marking the first time a song featuring Sir Mick scaled that height since the 1980s.
Meanwhile, Jagger's partner in crime, Keith Richards, was honored multiple times for, of all things, his literary achievements. Keef's 2010 memoir, Life, which has sold more than one million copies since being published in October of 2010, earned him the Writer of the Year trophy at the UK version of the GQ Men of the Year Awards, as well as a Norman Mailer Prize. The latter honor was presented to the iconic rocker by former President Bill Clinton. But arguably the most prized, er, prize that Richards won was the Brass Balls Award at Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards.
Guitarist Ronnie Wood also was a multiple award winner during 2011, receiving a number of trophies for his UK radio program -- the aptly titled Ronnie Wood Show. In addition, Wood reunited with his old band the Faces -- minus singer Rod Stewart -- for a handful of shows in the UK, Europe and Japan. Perhaps most impressive was the love life of the 64-year-old Wood, who was seen chaperoning a string of dates half his age to a variety of events. As for Charlie Watts, the famously low-key drummer kept busy by playing some shows with his jazzy side project, the ABC&D of Boogie Woogie. Other news in Stones land revolved speculation whether the band will get together in 2012 to mount a tour in celebration of their 50th anniversary as a group. For that, we'll have to wait and see.
REUNITING AND IT FEELS SO GOOD
One band is led by the Prince of Darkness; the other is all about the summer sunshine. While a number of beloved veteran bands returned to action in 2011, perhaps the biggest reunion news of the year were the announcements that Black Sabbath's original lineup and The Beach Boys' surviving members planned to mount major tours and release new studio albums in 2012. On November 11 at 11:11 a.m. PT, Black Sabbath foundersOzzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward took the stage at Los Angeles' famed Whisky a Go Go tell reveal to the world their big plans. Osbourne said of the much-anticipated reunion, "The timing was right." Sabbath's tour is slated to kick off with a European leg that begins May 18 in Moscow. The album, the band's first full-length studio effort with Ozzy since 1978, is expected out sometime in the fall.
The Beach Boys announced in mid-December their plans to tour and record an album featuring Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marksnext year in celebration of the band's 50th anniversary. The group's itinerary gets going with an April 27 headlining appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. As for the recording, Love told Rolling Stone that it was in its early stages.
Other significant reunions during 2011 included The Buffalo Springfield, The Cars andThe Faces. After first coming together again at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit Concerts in 2010, the Springfield played six shows in California and one at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee in June. More gigs initially were expected to be scheduled during the fall, but those plans have been shelved at least until later in 2012 and possibly indefinitely. The Cars surviving members released the well-received Move Like This, their first new album in 24 years, in May. That same month, the new wave rockers played a series of concerts across the U.S., and also were among the many bands who performed at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in August. Surviving Faces membersRonnie Wood, Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones joined forces for a handful of reunion shows in the UK, Belgium and Japan this summer. Unfortunately, singer Rod Stewartdeclined to participate, so Simply Red's Mick Hucknall was hired to fill in on vocals. Things may change in 2012, though, as Stewart has now announced that he's open to playing some reunion gigs with The Faces in conjunction with the band's impending induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
DELUXE REISSUES: EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
In recent years, bands have devised bigger and more elaborate ways of repackaging their classic material, and 2011 had more than its fair share of major reissues for fans to enjoy. Perhaps the most impressive reissue project was Pink Floyd's "Why Pink Floyd?" campaign. The space-rock legends released remastered versions of every one of its studio efforts in 2011, and put out deluxe "Experience" and super deluxe "Immersion" editions of two of its most revered albums, The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, each featuring rarities, outtakes and a variety of memorabilia. Floyd also packaged all of the basic discs in a 16-CD "Discovery" box set.
Queen also reissued all of its studio albums in 2011, in celebration of the band's 40th anniversary. Expanded versions of the group's 15 studio recordings were released in the U.S. in three waves, each one hitting shelves as a a five-CD box set.
Among 2011's other notable reissues were The Beach Boys' The Smile Sessions, which gathered together recordings intended for the surf-rock band's aborted 1967 releaseSmile; The Who's Quadrophenia: The Director's Cut, a deluxe edition of the band's acclaimed 1973 concept album painstakingly assembled by guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend; and The Rolling Stones' 1978 classic Some Girls, which included an extra CD of previously unreleased songs from the band.
U2 RULES THE ROAD; BONO AND THE EDGE STUMBLE ON BROADWAY
U2's 360 Tour finally wound down in Moncton, Canada, on July 30, 2011, and when the smoke had cleared and the high-tech, claw-shaped stage was dismantled for the last time, the Irish rockers' traveling extravaganza had become the highest-grossing and most-attended trek of all time. The tour, which kicked off on June 30, 2009, in Barcelona, Spain, visited 30 countries and was attended by a total of 7.1 million fans over the course of 110 concerts, bringing in more than 6 million. In 2011 alone, U2's 360 shows earned 3 million and were seen by 2.8 million people, garnering the band the Top Draw and Top Tour prizes at the 2011 Billboard Touring Awards.
U2 also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of their acclaimed 1991 album,Achtung Baby, by putting out multiple deluxe reissues that included varying amounts of bonus audio and video material. In conjunction with the milestone, a documentary about the making of the album, titled From the Sky Down, was produced, directed by David Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth). It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and was screened on Showtime in late October.
On the downside, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark -- the big-budget Broadway musical featuring songs composed by U2's Bono and The Edge -- was plagued by a variety of production problems, including cast injuries, technical glitches and poor reviews. The issues caused the play to be delayed numerous times and eventually led to the replacement of director/co-creator Julie Taymor. After the show was re-vamped with new tunes and script changes, it finally opened on June 14, and has gone on to become a popular draw. However, Taymor sued producers in November, claiming she hasn't been properly compensated for her creative input into the production.